Never tell him the odds.
After the success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it made sense for Disney/Lucas Film to play it safe with their second anthology film by making an origin film for fan favourite; Han Solo. However, it has not been smooth sailing for this film at all. After enduring a torrid production which saw original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller ousted and replaced with Ron Howard due to creative differences with Disney/Lucas Film, the whole film was almost entirely reshot, causing many fans to doubt whether or not the final product would be any good.
This is a film I’ve been looking forward to for a long time as I was given the incredible opportunity to work on it for just under a month last summer so I desperately wanted it to be good. However, working on the film meant that I was privy to plot details from other members of the crew so many parts of final product came as no surprise to me when I saw it onscreen, but it was still great to see what certain set pieces looked like in its final form.
This film itself isn’t perfect, it is however, a fun and enjoyable summer blockbuster. It does have its flaws but after going through director changes and extensive reshoots, the film itself holds up. While the action scenes are a lot of fun and the cinematography is beautiful, there were moments of dull dialogue and exposition in the film that were fairly forgettable and had me waiting for the action to return so I could get back into the film. However, while these scenes are fairly dull, the cast do actually try and make it as interesting as possible.
The biggest issue of this film was whether or not lead actor Alden Ehrenreich would be able to fill the enormous shoes left by Harrison Ford in the titular role. The answer? Yes he does. He does the role justice and is able to stand toe to toe with Ford in what he brings to the role, bringing the same arrogance and charm that we have come to love the character for over the years.
The rest of the cast are actually very good in their roles, Woody Harrelson who plays Han Solo’s mentor; Beckett is good as always and Emilia Clarke who plays Solo’s love interest Qi’ra also does a good job. However, the standout character in the film for me is Lando Calrissian who is played by Donald Glover. He is easily the best part of this film, fitting the role perfectly and doing a much better job in the role than Billy Dee Williams did, while bringing a nice amount of panache and swagger to the role and improving the film significantly. Amongst the other fresh blood in the film is the droid L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller Bridge, a character obviously intended to join the ranks of rambunctious comic relief droids such as Rogue One’s K-2SO, but who ultimately only ended up being an annoying character, who only really needed to serve as an ex machina toward the end of the film.
A feature I have always enjoyed about the Star Wars films is that there is always a central villain that the film revolves around. The original films had Darth Vader, Rogue One had Krennic and they were genuine villains who were able to keep the film anchored with a level of threat to the main characters. However, in Solo there is no discernible villain that the film can focus on. There are a few rivals throughout but none that particularly stand out. The closest exception to this is Paul Bettany, who puts in a great performance as gangster Dryden Vos, but he is criminally underused throughout the film. Its a shame that his talents weren’t put to more use because when he was on screen, he was always the actor you were watching.
Overall, the film itself isn’t perfect and neither is it bad, but it is also much better than the prequel trilogy. It’s a good middle of the road film in which you leave your brain at the door. However, I do believe that this film was affected by too much studio interference and it does show. There are a few tonal changes throughout where you are able to tell which scenes were done by Lord and Miller due to their quippy and humorous style of writing. I really would have liked to have seen their final version of the film as I felt their style of directing was the perfect fit for a character like Han Solo. But some things just aren’t meant to be. This film probably wasn’t needed, but it was a good way of expanding the Star Wars universe and giving us some backstory behind such a beloved character.